All news for: Week 16

Enjoy hearing more about what has been happening at Ponoi

And They Just Keep Coming…

Week 16 Report

As Week 16 comes to an end we all pause to celebrate the season. As Head Guide Max Mamaev said this week: “Welcome to Ponoi, one of the best salmon rivers in the world…”. This past week was a fine example of that maxim (or Maxism, as the case may be!!).

Ryabaga welcomed a group of seasoned salmon anglers this week, several of whom were in camp for the very first time. The conditions seemed to indicate that summer refuses to leave the Kola Peninsula, with temperatures more representative of early August than to mid-September. The water remained around 14ºc and this kept the salmon on the move. Most days, anglers and guides reported countless fish jumping as they moved upstream. Though these reports bode very well for the future productivity of Ponoi salmon, it can be quite challenging for anglers to get fast-moving fish to take a fly. On one particular day this week I counted 72 bright fish in Home Pool alone in 1.5 hrs. Though two experienced anglers covered the water from top to bottom, and though fish routinely jumped over their lines, neither angler was able to elicit a take.

Sunny, warm weather was somewhat intermittent this week, and it was particularly noticeable how the spells of cold and overcast weather had a clear positive effect on the catch rate. As they say, “a nice day for the anglers is no good for the fishing”. Though there were easy days and tough days this week, the fall-run fishing in Ryabaga remained incomparable. Bright, broad-shouldered Osenkas between 6 and 20 lb. did battle in a most spectacular manner, forcing anglers to give chase. By week’s end, anglers had landed an average of 14 fish, the vast majority of which were bright. Nearly twice as many fish were hooked as were landed, showcasing the incredible number of fish that are running up the Ponoi this Autumn. This incredibly strong Fall Run combined with active fish of superb quality, we look forward to good times in the weeks ahead. With rain in the forecast and lower temperatures on the way, the best is yet to come.

Let’s not forget that the Ryabaga experience is not entirely about the fishing. Ryabaga is beloved for all that happens around the edges of the days on the water. This week several “jam sessions” that featured the guitar of Leif S., guide Andrey Federov and Agustin Lo Greco made the experience even more special, as did the backgammon and card games played by guests and staff around the bar. And we must mention the laughter that filled the Big Tent throughout the week in response to the stories shared by our Irish friends. We thank our guests for the laughter and the goodwill, and for making the Ryabaga experience possible. We also thank all of you for playing a critical role in our battle to protect wild Atlantic salmon.

Tight Lines,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

Autumn Presses On

Week 16 Report

As Autumn presses on the tundra covers itself with a blanket of gold, and the night skies astonish us with dancing greens and purples. It was among these spectacles that we welcomed a new group of guests to Ryabaga last week, all of whom were eager to experience the thrill of Ponoi’s fall-run salmon. Some of these anglers were new to our special river, while others have experienced the wonder of Ryabaga several times before. We were overjoyed to welcome all!

Nobody knows for sure what drives these fish up the river at this time of the year, as they will not actually spawn for another year or so. Similarly, we don’t know for certain why in some years the bulk of this run arrives quite early (i.e. in the first week of August), while in other years these fall-runners decide to delay their journey, arriving suddenly with overwhelming numbers in the latter weeks of August. Though the peak of the run can be hard to pinpoint, we are always pleased to remember that there are typically fresh fish entering the system beginning the first week of August, just as there will continue to be fresh fish running under the ice, long after the Ryabaga season has ended.

This past week proved that 2018 will be one of those years wherein the Ponoi salmon have clearly begun their upstream journey somewhat later than usual. The numbers this week were below what one would expect based on average catch rates for historic Week 16’s, but Atlantic salmon are nothing if not mercurial. There’s a multiplicity of factors that impact the behavior of these fish, and despite years of experience and study, we know very little about how the migration and spawning cycle actually works.

Despite the unknowns, we can say with conviction that all people in camp, guests and staff alike, had a fantastic week. Paul D.’s guitar and Irish limericks made each evening a memorable one. Some guests took the fact that there seemed to be fewer fish than normal in the river as a rare opportunity to employ some unconventional tactics. Jon S. led that charge by fishing his beloved “White Muddler” almost exclusively throughout the week. After 28 years coming to Ryabaga, Jon’s conviction carries some weight, and it proved out in several lovely fish.

Though salmon were not landed in the numbers we expected, the quality and size of fish taken were exceptional, proving the point that even on a tough week, Ponoi is miles ahead of any salmon river in the world. Case in point, Paul D. took a 21 lb., an 18 lb., and a 17 lb. fish. Wolfgang N. likewise took an 18 lb. brawler, while Francis D. took two of that size. Michael R., on his first foray for Atlantic salmon, took a whopping 21 lb. fish!! The quality of fish in excess of 10 lbs. was extraordinary and showcased the potential of the Ponoi Fall Run.

It was a pleasure to have old friends such as Jane S., Hubert P., and John S. in camp, alongside new friends such as Sophie C. who took her first Atlantic salmon. It is always something to see when such mainstays of our angling community are joined by new guests, as longstanding memories and traditions are joined by new ones. Though it was not an easy week, the fact remains that a “tough week” in Ryabaga produces more opportunity than most rivers do at their best. That being said, the memories forged this week will last a long time, as they have less to do with the catching than they do with the greater experience created on our remote sliver of the Kola Peninsula.

Tight Lines,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager



Ponoi Performs Against the Odds!

Week 16 Report

The incomparable Ponoi showed her resilience through difficult conditions this week, as weather made matters quite challenging for Ryabaga anglers and guides.

We welcomed Week 16 with a steadily dropping river and some strong winds, especially on Monday when easterly gusts up to 25 knots pounded us all day long. After several calmer but wet sessions, the weather raged once again, with stronger winds and a serious rain that lasted for nearly 30 hours. Inclement weather forced some of our guests to take shorter days, despite the fact that staff and anglers worked together to keep spirits high. This optimism was highlighted on Thursday when a nice Argentinean barbecue and abundant Malbec were conjured to warm the spirits.

Fortunately, comparatively high water levels and an unusual east-to-west (and therefore mostly upstream) wind did little to reduce the water visibility, and the fish remained in a taking mood. On Friday the wind and rain offered us a truce, but the river that morning was up 70 cm higher than the previous day, and by evening it had not stopped rising. Nonetheless, despite these less than ideal conditions, the Ponoi did perform, and allowed our guests to land nearly 350 salmon, 50% of which were bright fall-run fish just in from the sea!

As seems to be the norm this Autumn, the fresh salmon in evidence were exceptionally fit and broad-shouldered, allowing anglers some truly epic battles. Harry Nash managed a magnificent brawler that tipped the scales at 21 pounds, followed closely by Nail Turley’s 20-pounder. As has been the case for the last few weeks, our guests made use of nearly all PRC water, and with the exception the two really windy days we used the Hovercraft to access the further sections of the lower Ponoi in comfort.

Camp was humming at full throttle this week, welcoming 21 guests from Ireland, UK, Belgium, US, France and Hong Kong. With the exception of 2 newcomers, all anglers in Ryabaga were repeat guests who have been returning for many years; it is always rewarding to see so many longstanding loyal friends back in camp, as we find this the most rare and valuable indicator of an operation’s success. We wish to thank newcomers and old friends alike for choosing to share precious time with us!

As we pass mid-September, much of the Atlantic salmon world is already thinking about next spring, but on Ponoi things are still ramping up. The several sea-liced fish landed in the last couple days prove that more fresh fish are entering the river, and more tremendous angling opportunities are still ahead. It is with this promise that we look forward to the coming weeks, which will no doubt be filled with great friends and great fishing.

Until Next Week,

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team

The Incomparable ‘Ponoi River Club’ Week

At one point during the past week, I overheard a conversation between one of our female staff members and a guest. The guest had asked what the Ponoi River Club Week feels like for the staff and guides in Ryabaga. The answer was brilliantly simple and accurate: “For us, this week is always like celebrating the New Year!”

We at PRC welcome every week of the season with the passion and dedication that sets the Ponoi experience apart, but a unique tone of expectation accompanies this one special week each year. Thursday’s party is of course a pinnacle of the season, and it would be inaccurate to say that this night of revelry is not among the most anticipated event of the year.

This past week there were many good reasons to celebrate. We finally welcomed some respite from the frequent rains we have been having of late. Ten days of clearing water and dropping water levels allowed the Ponoi to come back into fine shape, and the fishing responded in kind. The 14 rods in camp landed 278 fish this week, of which over 80% were bright, fall-run salmon. The river also performed well in terms of fish quality, with 10% of the fish caught tipping the scales over 15 lbs., and more than 100 fish landing above the 10 lb. mark.

With the exception of a very windy Sunday, conditions were quite good, and mild winds were the present throughout the week. We saw our preferred steady overcast which kept temperatures low but also consistent; our nights remained just a few degrees cooler than the days. As a consequence, water temperature remained stable, hovering between 7 and 8º C all week.

As we saw in the preceding week, the slower, deeper sections of the river were the most productive, especially for bigger fish. In these sections, full-sinking lines with medium to big tubes were the most successful rigs, fished more effectively on a stripped swing. I will say, though, that after many of the extended lunches, there were some pretty awkward casts being thrown!!

As for life in camp, every evening the Big Tent was filled with laughter as Syndicate Chairman Jeremy Block would present the daily results, noting the biggest winners (and losers) of the day. To punctuate this daily announcement, Jeremy has acquired a huge array of wigs, masks, hats and other unique props. Each season the collection improves markedly, as do Jeremy’s performance skills.

The beloved Thursday Night Party reached new levels this season. For some time, it has been the custom of Ryabaga staff to impress guests by manufacturing a splendid array of full costumes for the party. This year, however, to everybody’s amusement, the guests followed suit, regaling all present with some amazing outfits. Something tells me it won’t be the last time that Thursday night reverts into a full-fledged costume party. Based on what we saw this year, 2017 should be something special indeed.

We approach the 17th week of the season with a river in great condition, and the highest of hopes for a great end to the 2016 Ponoi salmon season. It is always wonderful to finish strong, with Ponoi and Ponoi anglers performing at their best. More to come on that note…


Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team